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Want a strong relationship? Look to the birds.

Scientists from Oxford University's Department of Zoology designed an experiment that prevented great tit bird couples from foraging in the same location.

They found that the couples sacrificed food in order to maintain their bonds, the University's news service reported.

The experiment involved blocking access to automated feeding stations. Couples could not access the same feeding stations, so they had to decide whether to stay with their mates and forego feeding themselves, or fly off and gorge.

The findings: Birds choose to spend more time at feeders they could not access than birds that were allowed to feed together.


"The choice to stay close to their partner over accessing food demonstrates how an individual bird's decisions in the short term, which might appear sub-optimal, can actually be shaped around gaining the long-term benefits of maintaining their key relationships," lead researcher Josh Firth said.

These birds also ended up spending a significant amount of time with their partners' flock-mates, and may even have learned to cooperate to allow each other to scrounge from off-limits feeding stations, Oxford said.

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.